Today’s TOP  10 from Tokyo!

By Gina Pongetti Angeletti


  1. Notably missing: Today, uneven bars was a fight of release moves, connections, pirouettes and performance. Not even here (let alone in contention) are two of the best bar workers artistic gymnastics has ever seen – Becky Downie (GBR) and Riley McCusker (USA). Both left off of their teams for these games, the door opens then for others. Downie’s twin Ellie Downie also sits watching from home. 
  2. China’s Beam is extraordinary to see in person. Machine-like in their precision along with posture and grace. Guan ChenChen, who qualified first into finals is as extraordinary as they come.
  3. We revisit the TPC (two-per-country) rule. 
    • Lu Yufei (CHN) who is their National Champion, is out on beam. 
    • MyKayla Skinner (USA) had the fourth highest vault score, and is out.
    • ROC on Bars: Urazova and Listunova are out, as they are 14.866 and 14.766 in 5th and 6th place.
    • Listunova is out of the All-Around with a 56.932, 6th place, less than a tenth away from her teammate Urazova who finished 5th.
    • The U.S. has all six athletes in the top 40. All but Jordan Chiles in the top 15.
    • IF there were no TPC, nearly 25% of the finalists  would be from the USA, Russia and and China. The dominant countries with depth have athletes that are simply left behind. Forever to be a part of the TPC club.

4. The Bonus Year – USA’s Jade Carey sure did benefit from an extra year. Though her specialty is vault and floor, and she earned her berth to the Olympics as a specialist only. The athletes qualified as individuals are allowed to compete in the All-Around and qualify for any of the five finals (event and AA). Jade stepped up her uneven bars with a score of 14.133 in qualifying.

5. Less Than 1.1 Behind ROC, the U.S. is in a position that they are not quite used to for sure. Second. They are over three and a half points ahead of China. But securing gold is, well, what they came here for. Biles stated to NBC, “We’re really striving for top three.” 

6. The Unitards. Germany competed in full length bodysuits tonight. A statement for women’s rights everywhere. A push for freedom of choice. The ability for others to say, “Well, if it’s okay in the Olympics, then why not here, too.”

7. Because of a copyright issue with Angelina Melnikova’s floor music, 30 seconds had to be replaced. The issue with the use of it? Nothing. It is because of broadcasting that a switch had to be made before the Olympics began. “Of course, it affected me psychologically because it’s not easy at all – you’re enjoying your floor immensely and then before the Games, the most important competition of your life, half of it is changed. I even cried a bit when I heard the new music, to be honest. But my choreographer and coaches supported me, I had to learn to love and accept the music.” She didn’t seem affected at all today. Her beautiful combination of dance and strength shined through.

8. Bouncing Out. Landings have always been an issue in women’s gymnastics. Years ago, a lunge, or a back step, was allowed. NCAA still does. For FIG competitions, the rules have changed to landing solid. Some athletes bounce out of tumbling with jumps (think Biles II) or back in the day, a Shushunova, to mask an off-balance landing. Simone Biles struggled today with stepping and bouncing out of bounds. Melnikova said in the Mixed Zone that she loves the equipment, and it’s the best she has ever been on. I think it’s  relative, of course, to what one is used to.

9. Vault. After Flavia Saraiva’s (BRA) foot injury during her last floor pass, Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade is the last remaining energy roll-over from the Rio 2016 Olympics. Her vault is simply amazing -15.4 for her Cheng. Who won’t we see? Giulia Steingruber (SUI). By one spot (technically 10th, bumped to 9th because of Skinner out for TPC). There were only 19 athletes here that even attempted to make the vault final at the Olympics. Many, surely, knew that training two was worth it for their respective national championships. When their D scores and level of execution were not in the mix, pulling back from doing so seemed like a good (and smart) training choice. 

10. Cheers to you, Oksana. Enough said.

Photos by Ricardo Bufolin for Inside Gymnastics

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